p THE KU KLUX KLAN
R N L D FDRSTER AND BENJAMIN R. EPSTEIN
MRS. HELEN BOWNDS
ON THE KU KLUX KLAN
BY ARNOLD FDRSTER AND BENJAMIN R- EPSTEIN
About the authors
Benjamin R. Epstein is national director of the Anti-Defamation
League of B'nai B'rith and has studied and written extensively on
problems of prejudice in this country and abroad.
Arnold Forster is the League's general counsel and director of
its civil rights division.
Cartoon from a Klan publication of the 1920's. (N. Y. Public Library]
:ov»dw£»" i0 ^
Preface The social phenomenon of an underground movement in a na-
tion either occupied by a foreign power or under the heel of a despotic,
, domestic government is not new to the world. However, the Ku Klux
(^Klan may be considered a native American underground— a genuinely
subversive force in the United States which is completely alienated
from the contemporary national thrust toward equality of opportunity
and citizenship for all and which employs terror to achieve its ends.
j^KIan activities take the posture of guerrilla race warfare directed
v against American citizens through murders, beatings, floggings and
other terroristic methods. The primary aim is to preserve a way of
life that is slowly dying?\ J
~— -" In the South today, the Klans have emerged as the hard-core
of the die-hard resistance forces still at work. These forces are rooted,
for the most part, in rural areas, small towns\and crossroads hamlets.
The gap is widening between these extremist elements, who embrace
Klan preachments of defiance and violence, and those forces in urban
areas where a trend toward compliance \yith the law is manifesting
In this polarization of forces, the Klans carry the banner of
terror as the only answer to the pressures imposed on the South by
the forward march of history /Whereas in recent years the issue in
the South was mainly that of the white man and segregation versus
the Negro and desegregation, an equally important issue revived by
the Klans today is lawlessness versus law enforcement. \
It doesn't take many men to bomb a church, to flog a Negro or
a white, or to commit other acts of violence in the dark of night. Two,
three, four or six men, operating in secrecy and with stealth, can bring
a reign of .terror to any small Southern town and can bring violence
and intimidation to cities and suburbs as well. The fact is that this has
been happening in the South for years, and much of it has been per-
petrated by hooded Klansmen and their henchmen.
The membership strength of the Klans operating in the South
today, therefore, is not an accurate measure of the danger to law and
order. Even if the Klans were half their present size, they would still
be a threat to the well-being of the South itself as it passes through
a difficult transitional period.
Another aspect of the Klan threat is the extent to which South-
ern officialdom has been infiltrated by Klansmen and their sympa-
thizers. In too many Southern communities, maintenance of the status
quo by any means is given precedence by such officials over the ob-
servance of law. The result is often a profound erosion of democratic
government from borough to state capital.
The Klans' strategy and tactics are reflected in frightening
Item: Since 1959, a total of 43 individuals concerned with the civil
rights movement in the South have been killed.
Item: Since 1955, approximately 1,000 instances of racial violence,
reprisal and intimidation have been reported.
Item: From 1954 to early 1965, some 227 bombings were reported and
56 suspects were arrested; 33 were acquitted, 10 have been convicted
and sentenced, another 10 received suspended sentences, and 3 await
/ Under the relentless pressures of the civil rights movement,
federal legislation and the federal courts, the Deep South is slowly
but inexorably giving ground to desegregation and equal treatment
under law for all citizens, regardless of color, but the entire liberating
process has a long way to go before Negro citizens in the Deep South
achieve their full legal rights, and in the Spring of 1965, it appears
that, for some years to come, there will continue to be a gap between
the rights Negroes achieve by law and the rights they actually hold.
Nor has the last chapter in the long history of the Klans in
America been written. But it is beginning to be clear that progress
toward equality of opportunity for Southern Negroes will continue,
and it has long been clear that the overwhelming majority of white
Southerners reject the Klans and prefer the rule of law even when
they disagree with the legislation.
As the South changes and the equality of Negroes under law
becomes the settled fact, it is likely that the Klans will wither and
disappear. But that day is still far off.
Chairman, Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith
In a desperate effort to halt the gradual progress of racial
desegragation in the South, the Ku Klux Klan and its allies have been
responsible for a major portion of the violence, killings, bombings,
and other acts of intimidation seen in recent years.
The Klans provide the organizational framework and the
emotional stimulus necessary to incite Klansmen and non-member
followers to acts of violence and terror, while their leaders need not
necessarily order or involve themselves in the actual incidents. On
their own, Klansmen and their sympathizers translate the Klans' in-
flammatory incitements into action. The watchword of the Klans is
"Fight!" and their tools are the shotgun, the rifle, the pistol, the bull-
whip, the gasoline-soaked rag, and the cluster of dynamite sticks.
In their growing strength, and in their fanatical dedication to
the waging of race war, Klansmen and their followers are arming
themselves heavily. Gun dealers are doing a brisk business, and
advertisements in gun journals across the country reflect a short
supply of small arms. The hooded empire's security guards— they
sometimes wear storm-troop type uniforms of gray, paratrooper
boots and Army-style helmets— carry no weapons in public, but they
make no secret of the fact that they often have them on hand in their
cars. These guards keep outsiders at arm's length, and try to keep
Klansmen themselves "in line."
Other special cadres, operating not quite as openly as the
security guards, often have more ominous missions. In Georgia, for
instance, one Klan numbered in its midst a group of "enforcers"
known as the "Secret Six." In the Spring of 1964, Morris Abram, an
attorney prominent in Jewish affairs, Vice-Mayor Sam Massell of
Atlanta, and a Southern white clergyman— each well known as an
opponent of the Klans and a defender of the rights of Negroes— were
marked for assassination by the Secret Six. The F.B.I, was alerted and
the plot was never carried out. In February, 1965, another Klan-type
secret squad met covertly at a headquarters of the Invisible Empire in
Georgia to plan the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
(Word of the plot to kill the leader of the Southern Christian Leader-
ship Conference leaked out, and the FBI and other law enforcement
authorities threw a heavy guard around him.)
A Klan Upswing The Klans' violent activities have helped attract significant
new membership and support during the last six months. As a result,
the hooded orders are in the midst of one of the periodic upswings
on the fluctuating graph of their strength in recent years. In the late
1950s and early 1960s, the White Citizens Councils, whose weapon
was economic pressure, spearheaded Southern resistance to the
Today, the Klans have re-
placed the declining Coun-
cils as the symbol and the
instrument of last-ditch re-
sistance. (Wide World-bothJ
imperatives of desegregation. Today, the Klans have replaced the
declining Councils as the symbol and the instrument of last-ditch
The provable hard-core of Klan membership is estimated at
10,000. But the Invisible Empire includes an additional 25,000 to
35,000 like-minded racists who belong to an assortment of Klan-type
groups or "gun clubs," plus others who, without any formal Klan
affiliation, stand ready to do its work of terror.
Despite this flurry of growth, the Klans are today a divided
movement ruled by competing promoters of racism. A common bond,
and their real danger, is lawless violence.
The largest Klan group in the South today is the United Klans
of America, Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, Inc., with headquarters in
Tuscaloosa, Ala., and members and supporters in nine states. It is led
by Robert Shelton, an energetic man in his mid-thirties, who has been
an active Klansman for about a decade. The United Klans can
probably count on active membership and sympathetic support from
26,000 to 33,000 adherents throughout the South. This support
includes Klans directly affiliated with the United Klans and some
semi-autonomous Klan groups in Alabama, Georgia, the Carolinas,
Tennessee, Florida, Louisiana, Texas and Virginia.
The United Klans' rival, not nearly as strong, is the National
Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, Inc., with headquarters in Tucker, Ga.,
near Atlanta. It is headed by James Venable, an Atlanta attorney who
has long been an extreme and active segregationist. The National
Knights has the support of 7,000 to 9,000, mostly in Georgia, with some,
scattered strength elsewhere.
The present resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan began during 1963,
and it can be linked to the climate brought about by a certain series
of events— the drama of the civil rights movement in Alabama since
the spring of that year, when the use of police dogs and fire hoses
against civil rights demonstrators in Birmingham shocked the nation
and attracted world-wide attention; that summer's proposal by the
late President John F. Kennedy of broad civil rights legislation; the
prolonged controversy over such legislation and the inflammatory
propaganda against the bill disgorged by segregationist, Klan and Far
Right organizations throughout the country.
. . . the use of police dogs
and fire hoses ... in Bir-
mingham shocked the na-
tion and attracted world-
wide attention . . . (UP1)
The United Klans
Robert Shelton — Imperial
Wizard of the United Klans
of America, Knights of the
Kn Klux Klan, Inc. fUPIJ
The main strength of Robert Shelton' s United Klans is in his
home state of Alabama, where he is assisted by Grand Dragon Robert
Creel of Bessemer. Shelton's 10,000 to 12,000 supporters here
reportedly are organized into at least 70 klaverns.
In Georgia, the United Klans are headed by Grand Dragon
Calvin Craig of Atlanta and have some 39 klaverns, with an estimated
overall strength of at least 7,000.
The United Klans in North Carolina, headed by Grand Dragon
J. Robert Jones of Granite Quarry, boast some 42 klaverns in what is
the best run state organization in Shelton's hooded order. There are
some 8,000 to 9,000 men aligned with the organization which, hoping
to attract still greater numbers, recently offered a special accident
insurance policy to its members and started a fund to pay $1,000
death benefits to widows of dead Klansmen.
In South Carolina, the Grand Dragon of the United Klans is
Robert F. Scoggins of Spartanburg. This group, relatively inactive in
the Winter of 1964-1965, claims 46 small klaverns— one in each county
of the state— and an estimated strength of 1,500 to 2,500 supporters.
The militant Original Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in northern
Louisiana is another United Klans affiliate. Shelton also claims the
loyalties of a number of smaller Klan groups in several states which,
however, retain a somewhat independent identity and have little
influence. One of these, the Improved Order of U.S. Klans, headed
by Earl E. George, has two small klaverns in Georgia, another in
Ocala, Fla., and two in Alabama. The other, the Association of Georgia
Klans, is headed by Charlie Maddox of Savannah and has two or
three small klaverns there.
During the Klan resurgence of 1964, the United Klans of North
Carolina sent organizers into Virginia under Shelton's direction and
succeeded in setting up four klaverns, three in the Norfolk-Portsmouth
area, and one at Petersburg. But these klaverns have shown little
sign of activity, their total strength hovering between 100 and 300.
In Tennessee, the Dixie Klans, Knights of the Ku Klux Klan,
Inc., headed for a number of years by Jack and Harry Leon Brown
of Chattanooga, has associated both with Shelton's United Klans, and
with its chief rival, James Venable's National Knights of the Ku Klux
Klan. Thus guarding their autonomy more jealously than most other
local KKK groups, the Brown brothers control one strong klavern in
Anniston, Ala., and a few small ones in the northwest corner of
Georgia, but their main strength is centered in Eastern Tennessee
where they have perhaps 2,000 to 3,000 supporters. The United Klans,
as such, has very little strength in Tennessee. There are, however, a
few small klaverns directly identified with the Shelton organization,
and Raymond Anderson of Maryville is its Grand Dragon in the state
where the Invisible Empire was first launched a century ago.
Texas has been singularly free of Klan activity in recent years,
but in the Winter of 1964-65, the United Klans undertook an intensive
recruitment campaign in the Dallas and Houston areas and scored
some limited success.
In Florida, the United Florida Klan, Knights of the KKK, headed
by Jason Kersey of New Smyrna Beach, is directly associated with
the United Klans. In the last year or so, it has been the target of
membership raids by other Klans and they have sapped its strength
and influence. Superseding it is the Florida Knights of the Ku Klux
Klan, run by Don Cothran of Jacksonville. Cothran's Klan is extremely
radical, and it has attracted members at a rapid rate. In the early part
of 1965 it was veering toward an affiliation with Shelton's United
Klans. There were already signs, however, of a slowing-up of its
growth as even more radical groups began luring its members into
their ranks. From all indications, northern Florida appears to be a
center of extreme and dangerous Klan-type activity.
James Venable, the Atlanta attorney who heads the National
Knights of the KKK has long been identified in extreme racist activity.
In recent years, he has been a leader of the Defensive Legion of
Registered Americans, an anti-Negro and anti-Semitic group closely
linked to the Christian Voters and Buyers League. In this activity,
Venable has been associated with Wally Butterworth, a former radio
personality who has recently devoted himself to recording hate
speeches. Anti-Jewish, anti-Negro, anti-government record albums
narrated by Butterworth are circulated throughout the nation's racist
and anti-Semitic hate fringe, and are often used for Klan recruiting
Long rumored to have had KKK associations, Venable emerged
as an open Klan leader in the early 1960s. Today, he is the main rival
of the more powerful Shelton for the position as top leader over
To promote his ambition, Venable has formed the Federation
of Klans, a paper organization which purports to be the opposite
number of Shelton's United Klans, but which is not nearly as strong
as its rival.
Efforts to work out a merger agreement and other forms of
cooperation between Shelton and Venable have been talked about,
but the talks have come to nothing, each of the men being unwilling
to concede the top position of Klan leadership to the other.
The focal point of the Venable Klan is Georgia, where it has
some 4,500 supporters, more than half its national total. In addition,
The National Knights
of the Ku Klux Klan, Inc.
James Venable - Imperial
Wizard of the National
Knights of the Ku Klux
Klan, Inc. (Wide World]
several smaller Georgia Klan groups are tied in with the National
Knights, none of them having notable size or influence. These include
the Federated Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, Inc., headed by William
Hugh Morris of Buchanan; the U.S. Klans, Knights of the Ku Klux
Klan, Inc., now headed by H. L. Jones of Jonesboro; and the Associ-
ation of Georgia Klans, which Charlie Maddox of Savannah runs,
maintaining an affiliation with the Shelton United Klans as well as
with Venable's group.
The "U.S. Klans," with one klavern and 200 followers from
areas east and south of Atlanta, is extremely radical and weapons-
The Association of South Carolina Klans, a Venable affiliate
headed by Robert Hodges of Columbia, vies with Robert Scoggins's
more powerful Shelton affiliate in that state.
A new Knights of the Ku Klux Klan organization was recently
formed in Ohio, and it has ties with Venable's Klan Federation. A
charter was granted, then withdrawn, by the Ohio Secretary of State
pending an investigation of the Klan's possibly subversive nature.
With Flynn Harvey of Columbus serving as temporary Grand Dragon
for Ohio, Klan groups have met in Columbus, in Cincinnati, and in
at least one Cincinnati suburb.
Venable has even signed up new Klansmen from Canada.
Recently, he contemplated a change in Klan rules that would permit
foreign-born Americans to join the hooded knights — a departure from
the "native-born" membership tradition.
Louisiana and Mississippi A significant highlight of the Klans' 1964 gains was their
emergence, for the first time since World War II, in Louisiana and
Mississippi, traditional strongholds of the White Citizens Councils.
The Councils, dominant for more than a decade, had failed
to prevent passage of the Civil Rights Bill, and the resulting disil-
lusion of die-hard segregationists offered a fertile field for Klan
recruitment. By early 1965, some 17 klaverns with an estimated
strength of 1,000 had sprung up in Louisiana, some of them extremely
militant and violent. There was growing evidence of Klan-type efforts
at intimidation in smaller Louisiana towns and cities, notably in
Bogalusa, a paper-mill town with a population of 25,000.
Mississippi was, in the summer of 1964, the focal point for a
voter registration drive and related educational activities carried out
by several civil rights organizations linked together as the Council
of Federated Organizations (COFO). As part of this activity, hundreds
10 of civil rights workers, students and other volunteers, many of them
from the North, came into Mississippi, some of them remaining into
the Winter of 1964.
The effort by COFO, like all other dramatic thrusts of the civil * White Knights of the KKK'
rights movement, provoked reaction. And in Mississippi, a major
aspect of the reaction was the emergence of the White Knights of the
Ku Klux Klan, an independent organization linked with no other
Klans, and viewed by law enforcement agencies as perhaps the most
die-hard, well-organized and violent order yet to appear.
It numbers an estimated 3,000 supporters, operates on military
lines, is extremely security-conscious, and believes that the only way
to maintain White Supremacy is through violence and bloodshed. It
boasts adherents and supporters in local law enforcement agencies,
Civil Defense organizations, police auxiliaries, and even some seg-
ments of the Mississippi business community.
The order is headed by Sam Bowers of McGee, Miss., who
argues that all who advocate moderation in racial matters are traitors
to the White Race.
Since 1960, when today's Klans began to emerge in their A History of Terror
present basic structure, there have been hundreds of bombings and
beatings, and acts of arson, terror and intimidation. Many such crimes
have been reported in the newspapers; others have not Some of this
violence has been traced directly to Klansmen. Some crimes have
resulted in convictions; many have gone unsolved.
In some cases there are simply no witnesses to acts of violence,
planned in secret and executed in the dark of night. Often those who
may know the facts are reluctant to come forward, fearing reprisals.
Others, intimidated by the existence of the Klans, their allies, and
their henchmen, live in a grudging, enforced conspiracy of silence
When the 16th Baptist Church in Birmingham was bombed in September, 1963 . . . four little Negro girls, attending
Sunday Schoo], were killed ... , .,
Carol Denise McNair, 11
Carol Robertson, 14
Addie Mae Collins, 14
Cynthia Dianne Wesley, 14
with the members of the Invisible Empire. Still others approve such
activities and would not betray the Klansmen under any cir-
Klan leaders like Shelton and Venable piously disavow vio-
lence and deny using it. Yet in their speeches, and in those of other
Klan leaders, the very same sentences that contain the disavowals
also contain incitements to extremist action.
In August, 1964, for instance, Robert Scoggins, Grand Dragon
of the United Klans in South Carolina, addressed a large Klan rally
near Salisbury attended by some 2,000 persons gathered near three
"We are not a violent order. But it is better to die for something
than to live for nothing!"
There was thunderous applause.
A few years ago, fames Venable of the National Knights
shouted to an Atlanta Klan audience that the schools should be burned
down if necessary to prevent them from being desegregated. And
Robert Shelton has declared:
"We don't advocate violence. If someone steps on our toes we
are going to knock their heads off their shoulders."
When the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham was
bombed in September, 1963, and four little Negro girls, attending Sun-
day School, were killed, a Klan speaker in St. Augustine, Fla., told
a crowd of Klansmen there:
"If they can find those fellows, they ought to put medals on
them. It wasn't no shame they was killed. Why? Because when I go
out to kill rattlesnakes, I don't make no difference between little
rattlesnakes and big rattlesnakes ... I say good for whoever planted
A Call to Race Warfare
The Klansmen speak publicly of using "ballots and boycotts—
not bullets"— but even their printed literature reflects a belief in race
warfare as the only way to preserve White Supremacy. In the Summer
of 1964, about the time the Civil Rights Bill was enacted, Klan recruit-
ing posters in Jackson, Miss., declared:
"If we don't win in the next eight months, we're all destined
for Communist slavery and our wives and daughters will be chattels
in Mongolian and African brothels . . .
"Absolutely refuse to register or give up your arms . . .
"Stock up on rifles and shotguns and pistols, all of standard
make, and lots of ammunition . . .
"Form an organization with next door neighbors but wear
distinguishing marks, such as caps of the same color, so you won't
be firing at your own people . . .
"Be your own leader of your own household and make it an
Such inflammatory advice, steeped in fear, was in keeping with
traditions that are now a century old. The history of the Klans in the
United States is an almost unvarying record of masked terror, night-
riding, and violence.
The First Klan
. . . the Ku Klux Klan instituted a relent-
less reign of terror throughout all the
states of the former Confederacy from
1867 to 1871. (Culver)
Nathan Bedford Forrest, former
Confederate General and the
first Klan Grand Wizard, or-
dered the Klan disbanded in
D. W. Griffith's film, THE BIRTH OF A NATION
(1915), added to the legend of the Invisible Empire.
In the one hundred years since the close of the Civil War,
America has experienced three distinct periods of activity on the part
of the Ku Klux Klan.
The first of these occurred in the years of the Reconstruction.
The original Klan was started on December 24, 1865, when a group
of Confederate soldiers just out of uniform met in their home town
of Pulaski, Tenn., to form a fraternal order shrouded in mystery
and secrecy. From all indications, their secret society was, at the start,
innocent and purely social in nature. It was not more than a matter
of weeks, however, before the newly-organized group— deriving its
name from the Greek "kyklos" (circle) to which was added an
alliterative form of "clan"-began frightening local Negroes by parad-
ing in white sheets. It soon formulated the racist platforms on which
the Klans have operated to this day.
Within a very short time the organization spread throughout
the entire South, attracting thousands of bitter and violent men who
feared the newly-freed Negro and despised the incoming North-
ern "carpetbagger." At a large convention held in Nashville, Tenn.,
in April, 1867, the Klan declared: "Our Main and Fundamental
Objective is the MAINTENANCE OF THE SUPREMACY OF THE
WHITE RACE in this Republic." By 1871, the hooded society had
reached a membership of more than 550,000.
The Klan's chief aim was to intimidate the Negro into absolute
submission, to drive out the "carpetbaggers" and to destroy every
vestige of Negro political power in the Southern states. In pursuing
this goal, the Ku Klux Klan instituted a relentless reign of terror
throughout all the states of the former Confederacy from 1867 until
In those four years of activity, the Klan helped to overthrow
the state governments of North Carolina, Tennessee, and Georgia, and
played a major role in the suppression of the Negro and the reestab-
lishment of White Supremacy throughout the South. In 1871, a
Congressional committee conducted an extensive investigation of
Klan violence and uncovered hangings, shootings, torturings, whip-
pings, and mutilations in the thousands.
The commanding general of Federal troops in Texas, reported:
"Murders of Negroes are so common as to render it impossible to
keep accurate accounts of them."
In Louisiana, testimony revealed at least 2,000 had been killed,
wounded, or injured in a few weeks preceding the Presidential
election of 1868. Seventy-five killings were reported in Georgia, and
109 in Alabama. One count showed that in a single county in northern
Florida during a period of a few months, more than 150 men were
murdered by Klansmen, at a rate of more than one killing a day.
The Klan Grand Wizard, former Confederate Gen. Nathan
Bedford Forrest, ordered the Klan disbanded in 1869, but it was not
14 until 1871, when outraged Northern public opinion forced the Con-
gressional investigation and Federal legislation, that the first Klan
was finally destroyed.
Although the Klan had disappeared, a highly romanticized
legend of its prowess lingered on, especially in rural areas of the
South where its secret rites held a fascination for back-country
Adding to the legend of the Invisible Empire were such
i glorifications as "The Clansman," a 1905 novel by Thomas Dixon, a
North Carolina minister— the basis of the now-famous D. W. Griffith
1915 motion picture masterpiece, "The Birth of a Nation."
William Joseph Simmons, a lanky Alabamian who had failed
both as a medical student and a Methodist minister, founded the
second Klan on Thanksgiving night, 1915, atop towering Stone Moun-
tain, just outside of Atlanta. There, he and about fifteen followers
stood below a burning cross and swore allegiance to the Invisible
Empire, Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, in a ceremony similar to that
held in Tennessee 50 years earlier.
The second Klan expanded on its original anti-Negro ideology,
stating that it aimed to keep "the Caucasian Race and its civilization
pure by preserving it from the contaminating intermixture of alien
races and their influences." It became, in fact, at least as anti-Semitic,
anti-Catholic, and anti-foreigner as it was anti-Negro. It plainly stated
that its Northern Klaverns were "to be mainly an instrument of anti-
Semitism." Its anti-Catholic hatred included such nonsense as the
claim that the Pope was about to transfer his headquarters from Rome
to Washington, and that arms were being stored in cathedrals in
readiness for a Catholic seizure of the United States government.
The revived Klan remained a small, not-very-effective Georgia
organization of only 5,000 members for the first five years of its his-
tory. But in June, 1920, Simmons hired two publicity agents, Edward
Young Clarke and Mrs. Elizabeth Tyler, and they were primarily
responsible for the subsequent growth of the Klan into a multi-million
dollar operation and a significant national political power. Its days of
greatest prosperity and growth were from 1922 to 1925, under the
leadership of Simmons' successor, Hiram Wesley Evans, a Texas
dentist. In 1925, at the peak of its power, Klan membership stood
between 4,000,000 and 5,000,000 and its income was in the millions
Unlike the Klan of Reconstruction days, the second Klan was
a national phenomenon. It amassed substantial political power in the
North and West, as well as in the South. In New Jersey, there was a
Klan organization in every county. In Indiana there was a virtual KKK
The Second Klan
In 1925, Klan membership
was at an all-time high and
40,000 Klansmen paraded
down Washington's Penn-
sylvania Avenue in a show
of strength. (Wide World)
Dr. Samuel Green. (UPI)
dictatorship over state politics under Grand Dragon D. C. Stephenson.
The order held strong power in Colorado, Oregon, Texas, Oklahoma,
Louisiana, Maine and Kansas. Even on Long Island, N. Y., crosses
were burned and Klan rallies were held. The Klan was a major issue
at the 1924 Democratic National Convention and the following year
40,000 Klansmen paraded down Washington's Pennsylvania Avenue
in a show of strength.
As had been the case a half-century earlier, a great wave of
public indignation over the Klan's violence contributed to its down-
fall. So, too, did internal bickering and some personal transgressions
by Klan leaders which were exposed in the press. The death blow,
perhaps, was a daring series of articles published in "The New York
World." The Pulitzer newspaper had compiled statistics on Klan
violence from October, 1920 to October, 1921. The findings: "Four
killings, one mutilation, one branding with acid, forty-two floggings,
twenty-seven tar-and-feather parties, five kidnappings, forty-three
persons warned to leave town or otherwise threatened, fourteen com-
munities threatened by warning posters, and sixteen parades by
masked men with warning placards."
The Klan went into a rapid decline in 1926, and was down to
about 350,000 members by the end of the following year. It did not die
out completely, however, but continued to attract support from those
who inherited the movement's legacy of racist violence, while shunned
by all men of social standing or respectability.
In 1928, despite declining membership, the Klan was able to
put up a vigorous, bitter fight against the first Catholic nominee for
President, Alfred E. Smith. Six years later, still under Hiram Evans'
leadership, the organization concentrated its attack on the New Deal.
By 1939, Evans had given up the leadership of the Klan, selling its
charter to Dr. James H. Colescott, a veterinarian from Terre Haute,
Ind., and Samuel Green, an Atlanta doctor. On August 18, 1940,
a year after its new leadership took over, the Klan engaged in some
highly-publicized pro-Nazi activity in the state of New Jersey. Klans-
men joined the German-American Bund in a large meeting at the
Bund's Camp Nordland, and there they burned a cross forty feet high
and sang Nazi marching songs. As America entered World War II,
the Klan disappeared as a national movement and its little local groups
eventually dissolved into obscurity.
The Third Klan
The present Klan — the third Klan incarnation— has its roots in
the period immediately following World War II when it was reorgan-
ized by Green. For four or five years thereafter, the Green-controlled
Klan was active in parts of the South, but it splintered into fragments
The burning of crosses, the Ku KIux Klein's traditional ritual of terror and intimidation.,
has become a fiery symbol of Klan resurgence in the 1960's. (Wide World)
when Green died in 1949. One reaction to the activities of the post-
war Klan was the passage of legislation against the wearing of masks
and the burning of crosses in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South
Carolina, and Virginia.*
Following Green's death there was a scramble for power
between his successor, Samuel Roper, and various splinter leaders
who sought to carve for themselves a slice of Green's Klan. The
struggle for power, along with a mounting public reaction against Klan
excesses, weakened the hooded order, but it managed to survive into
the early 1950s.
In 1952, Federal law enforcement agencies and authorities in
North Carolina undertook a mass roundup of Klansmen. Their action
was touched off by a wave of terrorism that had swept over Horry
County, S. C, the bailiwick of Thomas L. Hamilton, Imperial Wizard
of the Carolina splinter group, and had spread into North Carolina.
The terrorism had been marked by a series of brutal night-time kid-
nappings and floggings which terrorized citizens of Columbus County,
N. C, for more than a year. Night-riders had administered beatings to
Negroes and whites alike for a variety of "sins"— alleged drunkenness,
failure to attend church regularly, and failure to provide support for
home and family.
The reign of terror ended in February, 1952, when the F.B.I.,
aided by local police, staged a series of early morning raids and
arrested 11 former members of Hamilton's Klan, charging them with
* Fifty-two key Southern communities also adopted anti-mask and anti-cross burning
laws and ordinances. The Anti-Defamation League played a leading role in drafting
model legislation which was published in a widely-distributed pamphlet, "How To Stop
Violence, Intimidation in Your Community -A Legal Approach," written by Alexander
F. Miller, then director of the League's Southern Region.
Imperial Wizard Sam Roper. fU
violations of the Federal (Lindbergh] Kidnapping Law— two victims
had been carried across the state line to be flogged. Among those
arrested was a local constable and former police chief of Fair Bluff,
N.C., and another who was a deputy sheriff of Columbus County and _
former police chief in Tabor City, N.C. Ten of the 11 defendants were
found guilty and received sentences of up to five years in the Federal
Later that year, state authorities in North Carolina arrested
additional Klansmen identified as having been involved in other
flogging cases— including Imperial Wizard Thomas Hamilton himself.
In July there was a mass trial of 71 Klansmen; 63 were convicted and
sentenced, charged with 180 offenses in 12 separate flogging incidents.
Hamilton drew four years at hard labor.
The North Carolina trials temporarily broke the Klan's power
in the Carolinas and had a sobering effect on the hooded Klaverns
elsewhere in the South. For the next four years — until 1956 — local
splinter groups continued to exist, but their influence was negligible.
The first wave of Southern resistance to the school desegre-
gation decision handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court in May,
1954, was spearheaded by the new White Citizens Councils, which
had sprung up across the South in the Summer of 1954. The Councils
now sought, by "persuasion" based on the threat of economic &
reprisals, to choke off local activity by individuals and organizations
favoring compliance with the Supreme Court decision. The Citizens
Councils included members drawn from the respected levels of
Southern life— bankers, mayors, planters, businessmen, sheriffs,
politicians and other influential citizens — and their stated purpose
was the preservation of a segregated South. Originated in Mississippi,
the Councils soon spread to other Southern states, and by early 1956,
boasted an estimated membership of some 100,000.
Respectable though they claimed to be— they rejected violence
as a means of preserving segregation— there was, nevertheless, early
evidence that the Councils had been infiltrated by anti-Semites, and
that crude anti-Jewish propaganda was being recommended and cir-
culated by some of their units. As time went on, moreover, extremist
elements joined local Citizens Councils. Wholly extremist independent
Councils, led by anti-Semites, sprang up.
Nevertheless, those Citizens Councils directed from Missis-
sippi continued to wield considerable influence, and during the
administration of former Governor Ross Barnett played a significant,
if not dominant, role in Mississippi political and governmental affairs.
As the first steps toward desegregation in the South were
accomplished, extremist elements in the Citizens Council movement
began to gravitate toward the more extreme Councils, in which Klan
elements were active, or toward the dormant KKK itself.
By the second half of 1956, there was a sharp increase in Klan
activity. In September, a crowd of 3,000 attended a Klan rally at Stone
Mountain, near Atlanta, where the second Klan had begun 41 years
The Klan gathers on Stone Mountain, just outside of Atlanta, where the Klan was reborn
in 1915. ( wide Wodd )
earlier. They came from seven Southern states in 1,000 cars, many
painted with KKK emblems. The rally was organized by the late
Eldon Edwards, an auto paint sprayer from Atlanta who had, in 1955,
obtained a charter for a new hooded empire to be known as "The U.S.
Klans, Knights of the Ku Klux Klan." As Edwards sought to organize
new klaverns throughout Georgia— and later in Alabama and the
Carolinas — Klan parades, rallies and cross-burnings became frequent
spectacles once more.
Other small Klan units, one of them organized by Asa E. Carter,
former leader of the extremist North Alabama Citizens Council, began
to stir in Florida, Texas, Alabama and the Carolinas. A crowd of 1,000
attended a Klan rally at a drive-in theater near Concord, N.C. — the
first such conclave to be held in that part of the state since the 1920s.
Nevertheless, the Klans which came to life in 1955-1956 failed
to achieve any cohesion and remained a fragmented assortment of
feuding wizards, dragons, and kleagles rejected by the overwhelming
majority of Southerners who spurned the Klan while remaining
opposed to integration.
The Edwards Klan, with an estimated 12,000 to 15,000 mem-
bers, was the largest of the scattered Klan organizations. Some seven
other scattered orders could boast no more than 1,000 or 1,500 mem-
Despite their relatively small membership, however, the danger
posed by the Klans stemmed from their role as breeders of lawlessness
and as magnets for the worst elements. Some Klan leaders were
pistol-packing hoodlums familiar with the use of dynamite as a wea-
pon of terrorism. Early in 1958 several members of a KKK group in
North Carolina were seized in connection with an attempted bombing
of a Negro elementary school in Charlotte. 19
Imperial Wizard E. L. Edwards.
Klansmen in Alabama were involved in one of the most sordid
instances of violence on record. In September, 1957, a group of them
met in a private home to decide what action to take in protest against
efforts to desegregate schools in Birmingham. Deciding to pick up a
Negro — any Negro — and to scare him, they found a poor handyman
named Judge Aaron, dragged him to a small house with a dirt floor,
emasculated him with a razor blade, and then tortured him by pouring
turpentine on his wounds. The mayhem was carried out by lamplight
under the supervision of an "Exalted Cyclops" who wore a Klan robe
trimmed in red. The victim, later found by police in critical condition
on a roadside, survived his ordeal.
Six Klansmen were arrested and charged with mayhem. Four
were convicted and received 20-year terms. The trial judge called the
offense one of the worst crimes in his 35 years of legal experience.
The Birmingham mutilation highlighted a series of outrages
carried out by Klansmen during the summer and fall of 1957. In
August, James E. Folsom, then Governor of Alabama, issued a public
statement calling on all law enforcement agencies to crack down on
Klan "hoodlumism.'' His message came after six Negroes had been
beaten in one Alabama town, four in another.
In February, 1960, the Negro sit-in movement was launched at
Greensboro, N. C., and brought new and mounting pressure for deseg-
regation to the entire South. While no concrete proof of a cause-and-
effect relationship can be offered, 1960 marked a sharp increase in
Klan activity and the consolidation of previously-splintered Klan
organizations in seven Southern states.
The Klans gained considerable strength during 1960 and by the
start of 1961, their southwide membership was estimated to be 35,000
to 50,000. Two major Klan "federations" emerged during 1960 — the
Edwards U.S. Knights of the KKK and the newly-formed National
Knights organized by anti-Edwards splinter Klans in seven Southern
states. A few local Klans— notably the Alabama Knights of the KKK,
headed by Robert Shelton — remained unaffiliated at that time.
Shelton had been head of the Edwards U.S. Knights of the KKK in
Alabama until he was ousted by Edwards in the Spring of 1960, a
falling-out typical of the persistent feuding between the petty lords
of race warfare.
In January, 1961, the strength of the Edwards Klan was placed
at 15,000 to 20,000, the National Knights at some 10,000 to 15,000.
Another 10,000 to 12,000 supported various unaffiliated Klans and
klaverns scattered through the South.
The significant growth of 1960 and 1961, however, was not so
much in Klan membership as in Klan activity and violence. In March,
1960, to show its strength, the newly-formed National Knights of the
KKK staged a series of carefully coordinated cross-burnings through-
out the South on the last weekend of the month. Newspapers at the
time reported that on Saturday, March 26, more than 1,000 crosses
were burned in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and other
There was evidence that Klansmen from Florida and South
Georgia played an organized role in the race riots that rocked Jackson-
ville, Fla., for almost a week beginning on "Axe Handle" Saturday
— August 27, 1960. Tactics to counteract the sit-in movement, of
which Jacksonville was then a target, were discussed at a meeting
of the Jacksonville klavern of the Florida Knights of the KKK four
days earlier. From that meeting a call went out to other Klan units
urging them to converge on Jacksonville the following Saturday and
to bring Klan sympathizers with them. They were to leave all Klan
identification at home and to come to Jacksonville in street clothing.
Scores of Klansmen and other whites appeared in downtown
Jacksonville on the morning of August 27. Stores selling baseball bats
and axe handles reported heavy sales — one store alone sold 50 axe
handles. Violence soon broke out and during the disorders, shouts
that "For every nigger, we got to kill two Jews!" were heard. Sporadic
disorder and violence continued for several days.
The death of Eldon Edwards on August 1, 1960, brought new
and more violent leadership to his U.S. Klans organization, which
remained the largest of the splinter Klan groups, though relatively
inactive. Edwards had sought to convey an image of respectability,
in part by public statements rejecting violence, in part by inaction.
His critics said his real interest in the Klan had been increasing his
personal wealth. In any event, during his five years of leadership, the
activities of the U.S. Klans appeared to consist for the most part of
an occasional picnic or fish-fry. But Edwards' successor, aptly named
"Wild Bill" Davidson (real name Robert Lee Davidson), soon made
it clear that he intended to pursue an "activist" policy. Unlike Ed-
wards, Davidson publicly advocated extreme measures to preserve
"If it takes buckshot to keep the black race down," he was
quoted as saying publicly in November, 1960, "Klansmen will use it."
The Klan chaplain was quoted as saying that "If it takes saving the
American way at the cost of our lives, then let's make that sacrifice."
Atlanta newsmen reported that the Klan speakers, while pro-
fessing love for all races and creeds, shouted about "Jew boys" and
"niggers," and that while professing their respect for law and order,
they talked of using buckshot, burning schools and sacrificing Klan
lives in the cause.
In January, 1961, when the University of Georgia at Athens
University of Georgia stu-
dents demonstrating against
the admission of two Negro
students. (Wide World)
was ordered desegregated by a Federal Court— two Negro students
were then admitted — a riot took place on the campus. Newspaper
reports noted the presence of known Klansmen in street clothing at
the scene. They were led by Calvin Craig, then Grand Dragon of the
U.S. Klans for the State of Georgia.
Nine out-of-towners— from Atlanta— were arrested in Athens
and all but one were Klan members. Two of them were special Fulton
County (Atlanta) deputy sheriffs. Police confiscated a small arsenal
On July 8, 1961, the United Klans of America was formed at
Indian Springs, Ga., with some 500 Klansmen from seven Southern
states present. The plan was to merge various splinter groups into
a unified hooded empire and to fill the leadership vacuum that had
developed after the death of Edwards and the failure of the National
Knights, formed a year earlier, to bring cohesion to the movement.
The leading figure at the Indian Springs meeting was Shelton,
who had come with an eight-man security guard dressed in black
boots and red ties. The apparent show of strength by the Alabama
leader had its effect, and Shelton was named Imperial Wizard of
the new Klan union.
The desegregation efforts of the civil rights movement at
Albany, Ga., during 1962, sparked Klan efforts at recruitment, and
by early 1963, the United Klans' Albany klavern, numbering some
300, was one of the largest in Georgia. O n Labo r Day, 1962, in Albany,
a 40-foot cross was burned beforelm estimated crowd of 5,000 or
6,000 with Shelton and other bigwigs present. In^ August, 1963, a
United Klans cross-burning at Lakeland, Fla., attracted an esti-
Such cross-burnings and public "speakings" staged by the
United Klans, coupled with Shelton' s organizing energy and the grow-
ing pressure of desegregation, helped the growth of the organiza-
tion which, by the Spring of 1965, had become the strongest Klan
group in the country.
KKK and the 1964 Election The Ku Klux Klan became a political "issue" in the 1964 Gold-
water-Johnson Presidential races and various Klans attracted atten-
tion to their organizations by exploiting the "extremism" issue.
The role of President Johnson as inheritor of President Ken-
nedy's mantle, and his determination in pressing for a Civil Rights
Bill, did nothing to endear him to the Klans. Moreover, while the
Republican convention at San Francisco had refused to condemn
extremist groups such as the John Birch Society and the Klans by
22 name, the Democratic platform had emphatically done so. Follow-
F.B.I, Chief ]. Edgar Hoover said in 1965: "During the past year there has been
a marked increase in Klan membership." Shaded areas show where Klan activ-
ity is most active today.
[N. Y. Times) © 1965 by the New York Times Company, reprinted by permission.
ing adoption of that platform, Robert Shelton denounced the Demo-
cratic Party. "Known Communist agitators," he charged, had partici-
pated in its convention.
Later in the campaign, the GOP adopted a position on the
Klan similar to that of the Democrats. In the days right after the San
Francisco convention, vice-presidential candidate William Miller and
GOP National Chairman Dean Burch had refused to disavow the
Klan support proffered by Calvin Craig, Grand Dragon of Shelton's
Georgia affiliates, but Senator Goldwater himself soon repudiated it
thoroughly. Only a week after the Miller and Burch statements, Gold-
"We don't want the backing of the Ku Klux Klan and I don't
think we're going to get it."
It is doubtful that the Klans had any substantial impact on
the course of the Presidential contest in the South. The numerical
strength of the Klans, scattered throughout the Southern states, was
not sufficient to have any meaningful effect politically. Further, it
must be borne in mind that the Klans are viewed with disfavor by
the majority of white Southerners, including most of those favoring
segregation of the races.
The Record of Violence Consistent with its history, and in keeping with the public
y declarations of its acknowledged leaders, the Ku Klux Klan has con-
tributed to the sordid record of violence attached to racial problems
/ in the South over the past few years.
• Birmingham has had at least 29 bombings since 1957. As recently
as the first week in April, 1965, the home of a Negro accountant was
blasted, and an hour later, bombs were found and disarmed at the
homes of Mayor Albert Boutwell and a City Councilwoman. Whites
and Negroes alike have been targets of terror, but Negro homes, busi-
nesses and churches have been the main targets. Perhaps the worst
of such events in Birmingham was the September 15, 1963 bombing
of the 16th Street Baptist Church in which the four Negro girls were
killed. Three men, two of them with Klan records, were arrested and
found guilty of possessing dynamite. In June, 1964, the three men
were acquitted of the possession charge, a misdemeanor. One related
in an alleged confession how he had secured the dynamite to blow
out tree stumps on land intended as a new headquarters for a Klan
• Since 1963, eleven persons have died violently as the result of racial
tensions in Alabama. In April, 1963, William L. Moore, a Baltimore
postman, was shot to death on U.S. 11 near Attalla, Ala., while on a
one-man civil rights walk from Chattanooga, Tenn., to Jackson, Miss.
On September 4, 1963, John L. Coley of Birmingham was shot to death
in a riot that followed the bombing of a Negro lawyer's home. The
four Negro children killed in the infamous Birmingham church bomb-
ing were Cynthia Wesley, 14, Carol Robertson, 14, Denise McNair, 11,
and Addie Mae Collins, 14. Another child, Virgil Ware, 13, was shot
to.death by a white youth in the aftermath of the bombing, and Johnnie
Robertson, 16, was killed by a police officer the same day. On Febru-
ary 18, 1965, James Lee Jackson was fatally wounded in a clash be-
tween Negroes and Alabama State Troopers in Marion, Ala. Jackson
died February 26. The Rev. James Reeb, Unitarian minister of Boston,
was fatally clubbed by a white man in Selma on March 9, and he died
two days later. Mrs. Viola Gregg Liuzzo of Detroit was shot to death
on March 25 near Lowndesboro, Ala., while aiding in the Selma-to-
Montgomery civil rights march.
• In McComb, Miss., during 1964, 18 bomb blasts took place at Negro
churches and homes. On October 1, 1964, three Klansmen were ar-
rested in connection with one of the bombings, one of them in con-
nection with a second. On October 24 these three plus six others
entered pleas of guilty and nolo contendere. After setting various
sentences for the nine men, the court suspended the sentences.
24 • Klansmen have been arrested, tried and acquitted, or convicted in
Mrs. Viola Gregg Liuzzo.
Shot to death in Alabama.
connection with numerous bombings and attempted bombings. Exam-
ples: there were explosions at the home of Mayor John Nosser of
Natchez, Miss., who believes qualified Negroes should vote. Bombs
blasted the newspaper office of a Pulitzer Prize winner, Hazel B. Smith
of Lexington, Miss., who fought the Klan through the pages of her
newspaper. Six bombings in Shreveport, La., inflicted an estimated
$100,000 worth of damage on property owned by integrationists. Two
Klansmen were convicted of stealing dynamite to be used in a planned
bombing of the five-story cable car building at Georgia's Stone Moun-
tain. Police balked the planned bombing.
• Four Georgia Klan members were arrested in the Summer of 1964,
in connection with the murder of Lemuel Penn, a Negro educator who
was gunned down from a passing auto while driving home to Wash-
ington from military duty at Fort Benning, Ga. Two of the four were
tried; they were acquitted by an all-white jury. The four, plus two
other Klansmen, were then indicted by a Federal grand jury for con-
spiring to injure and oppress Negroes. In December a Federal Court
in Macon dismissed the indictment.
• Twenty-one men, six of them said by the F.B.I, to be members of
the White Knights of Ku Klux Klan, were arrested in Mississippi by
the F.B.I, on December 4, 1964 in connection with the slaying of civil
rights workers Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner and James
Chaney on June 21 near Philadelphia, Miss. The charge: conspiring to
Lemuel A." Penn. Shot and
killed in Georgia. (Wide World)
Andrew Goodman, James Chaney and Michael Schwerner. Murdered in Mississippi. (VPI)
violate the civil and constitutional rights of the three slain men. Six
days later, a U.S. Commissioner dismissed the charges against 19 of
the 21 men arrested. On January 11, 1965, the Government presented
to a Federal grand jury the confessions of two of the men, one an ac-
knowledged Klan member. On January 15, the grand jury handed up
indictments against all but a few of the 21. On February 26, U.S. Dis-
trict Court Judge W. Harold Cox ruled that 17 of the defendants should
stand trial on misdemeanor charges in the deaths of the three civil
rights workers and he dismissed felony charges against them. [The
New York Times reported that Judge Cox, a native of Mississippi, had
referred to Negroes in a voter registration hearing in his chambers in
March, 1964, as "a bunch of niggers" and called them "chimpanzees"
who "ought to be in the movies rather than being registered to vote.")
• On February 16, 1964, a bomb caused extensive damage to the home
of a Jacksonville, Fla., Negro family whose six-year-old boy had en-
tered a previously all-white school. William Sterling Rosecrans, de-
scribed as a "close associate" of North Florida KKK leaders, was ar-
rested on March 3 and charged with the bombing. On March 12, the
F.B.I, arrested five Klansmen and a day later Rosecrans pleaded guilty
to Federal charges of conspiring to bomb the boy's home and to in-
timidate Negroes from carrying out school desegregation. He was
sentenced to seven years in Federal prison, but early in 1965 was seek-
ing his release on the grounds that he had not been given an oppor-
tunity to consult a lawyer or advised of his right to do so. The five
Klansmen were all acquitted.
• The burning of crosses, the Ku Klux Klan's traditional ritual of
terror and intimidation, has become a fiery symbol of Klan resurgence
in the 1960s, In March of 1960 alone, more than a thousand crosses
were burned in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas and other
Southern states— a. show of strength by the then newly-formed Na-
tional Knights of the KKK. In September, 1962, when the Klan was
reactivated in Louisiana, its units burned crosses in at least 14 north
Louisiana towns and at the State Capitol in Baton Rouge.
• In January, 1964, more than 150 crosses were burned near Negro
homes and schools in five Louisiana parishes, and at seven different
places on a single night in Vicksburg, Miss. In May, crosses were
burned in 64 Mississippi counties on the same night. On August
15, there were scores of cross-burnings in Louisiana and Mississippi,
many of them at 10 p.m. sharp by obviously pre-arranged planning
• Negro churches have been burned on numberless occasions through-
out the South.
• Individual persons, both Negro and white, have been beaten and
flogged. In November, 1964, in Laurel, Miss., a gang of masked men
kidnapped Otis Matthews, financial secretary of Local 5443 of the
AFL-CIO International Woodworkers of America. They tied his
hands, ripped off his trousers, thrust him face down on the ground,
and beat him with a heavy leather strap. From time to time the beat-
ings were interrupted and hot liquid poured on his wounds. Matthews
said later he was beaten by the KKK because the union had approved
a Federal order giving Negroes equal treatment at the Masonite plant
26 in Laurel.
• In July, 1964, the owner of a filling station in Wesson, Miss., was
beaten by three masked and hooded men because he had refused to
join the Klan and had hired Negro employees. Earlier, in April, Klans-
men beat up a newspaper reporter near one of their meetings in Jack-
• St. Augustine, Fla., was the scene of days of racial violence and
disorder in the early summer of 1964, when Martin Luther King and
the Southern Christian Leadership Conference sought desegregation
there. Klan-type rallies were a nightly occurrence in the "Slave Mar-
ket" of the nation's oldest city. Robed Klansmen mingled with non-
robed whites to hear harangues by itinerant rabble-rousers such as
J. B. Stoner, an official of the racist, anti-Jewish National States Rights
Party who boasts a long Klan record, and by "Reverend" Connie
Lynch, a Californian who travels by sporty Cadillac to areas where
trouble brews, then fans the flames of unrest. In St. Augustine, Stoner
and Lynch whipped up the hard-core, violent elements who were
spearheaded by the "Ancient City Gun Club," headed by Hoisted
Dr. King's desegregation efforts, and "wade-ins," when Negroes
sought to desegregate the beach in St. Augustine, brought violent re-
action from the segregationist mobs. The city became the scene of
racial rioting for several weeks during which the Klan paraded openly
in the streets. During a court hearing on the question of a city ban on
night marches by civil rights groups, Federal Judge Bryan Simpson
asked Sheriff O. L. Davis whether he, himself, was a member of the
Klan, and whether he recruited his deputies from Klan ranks. The
sheriff, a long-time friend of "Horse" Manucy, expressed shocked
denials to both questions.
• Philadelphia, Miss., was another town knowing open KKK activity.
Just before Christmas, 1964, after months of silence born of fear in
Philadelphia, the Rev. Clay Lee, a young Methodist minister, openly
declared— from his pulpit and before a Rotary Club audience— that the
hooded terrorists had ruled the area for at least six months. He said:
"For all practical purposes, the Klan has taken over the guidance of
thought patterns in our town. It has controlled what was said and
what was not said."
• Bogalusa, La., provides perhaps the most frightening example
in recent years of Klan terrorism of an entire community. Situated
about 60 miles north of New Orleans along the swampy Pearl River,
which forms the border between Mississippi and Louisiana, Bogalusa
has been the focal point for a resurgence of Klan terror that started
in earnest about a year ago when the Original Knights of the Ku Klux
Klan of Louisiana began organizing and burning crosses throughout 27
the northern and eastern parts of the state. By the Winter of 1964-1965,
the Klan had virtually paralyzed the community. Bogalusa was dubbed
"Klantown USA" by some observers.
The local situation became the subject of national headlines
early in 1965 when former Arkansas Congressman Brooks Hays, a
moderate, was invited by a group of six Bogalusa citizens to speak to
a white and Negro audience on the experiences of Southern cities
faced with integration. Immediately following the invitation, the Klan
and its followers launched a campaign of intimidation and economic
boycott against those who had invited Hays to speak. The campaign
did not stop, even after pressure forced the members of the citizens
committee to withdraw the invitation and cancel the meeting.
The men who had invited Hays— the local newspaper editor,
the operator of radio station WBOX, an attorney, and three ministers
—were subjected to constant phone harassment, often by callers using
vile language and making threats against their lives and property. One
caller told the wife of Ralph Blumberg, operator and half-owner of
Bogalusa's radio station: "He's signed his death warrant."
Blumberg bore the major brunt of the attack. The transmitter
of his radio station was fired on with a shotgun. He was threatened
with death. His car windows were smashed, and nails were hammered
into its tires. Suddenly, most of his station's advertisers withdrew as
sponsors. Eventually, Blumberg had to take all his sponsors off the
air to protect them from harassment. (One of his sponsors had re-
ceived 37 "warning" calls in a single day.) Despite the attack, Blum-
berg courageously vowed to stay on the air and to continue "to fight
with everything" he had.
Prior to the scheduled Hays speech, the Klan distributed a leaf-
let that reached almost every home in the community. Residents were
told* that the purpose of the Hays invitation committee was to con-
vince them to allow their children "to sit by filthy, runny-nosed,
ragged, ugly little niggers in your public schools."
And so, the leaflet warned, "The Ku Klux Klan is strongly or-
ganized in Bogalusa . . . Being a secret organization, we have KLAN
members in every conceivable business in this area. We will know
the names of all who are invited to the Brooks Hays meeting . . . Ac-
cordingly, we take this means to urge all of you to refrain from attend-
ing . . . Those who do attend . . . will be tagged as integrationists and
will be dealt with accordingly by the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan."
The resurgence of Klan activity in the Bogalusa area resulted
in numerous acts of terror and violence. A 26-year-old millworker was
pistol-whipped by hooded men. A Tulane student who had partici-
pated in civil rights activities in New Orleans was flogged so severely
that he needed surgery. A banjo player who had played in a hoote-
28 nanny with Negroes was also beaten.
In a press release, the Congress of Racial Equality charged that
at least eight beatings or other incidents of violence against individ-
uals took place in the Bogalusa area between January 25 and February
21, 1965. One of these involved a young CORE worker who, on Feb-
ruary 3, was attacked by two men and beaten severely, one of his
hands being broken in two places.
Newspaper reports of Klan membership in Bogalusa range from
600 to 1,400 members, 'The difficulty," one resident said, "is that
nobody knows for sure who's in the Klan. The next fellow who walks
through that door might be a member." He added: "It's a shame, but
people can't speak their minds freely in Bogalusa today." Another
observer described the town's climate this way: "Tension lies like
fog, infecting every aspect of its life."
In its preoccupation with violence, and in particular with weap- The "Gun Club"
onry, the Ku Klux Klan has begun a dangerous trend toward an under-
ground form of organization-the "gun club." Such units have certain
advantages from the Klan viewpoint, quite aside from increased
secrecy. Gun clubs admit members at a much younger age-17-year-
olds are eligible-than do the Klans themselves, and thereby attract
eager and violence-prone youths into the KKK orbit. Moreover, mem-
bership in a gun club gives a Klan-minded tough an easy excuse-a
gun club meeting-when he is stopped and weapons are found in his
The first gun clubs organized under Klan auspices managed to
obtain affiliation with the eminently respectable National Rifle Asso-
ciation, which was unaware at the time of their true nature. Clubs
organized through the N.R.A. could purchase surplus quantities of
guns and ammunition from armories at reduced prices. This practice
was discontinued late in 1964, and the gun clubs formed by the Klan
since that time have not been allowed to affiliate with the N.R.A.
The Klan-inspired clubs have, however, found other sources of
supply. One gun dealer in the Deep South, who keeps large stocks on
hand, reportedly sold four tons of guns in one 70-day period early
Now, in addition to the gun clubs, other forms of underground
organization are being developed by the hooded orders. One Klan,
for instance, has taken steps to incorporate as a "Church." Its leaders
are reported to feel that if use of the Klan name and organization
should become untenable, klaverns would still be able to operate as
"church groups." Thus, as the Invisible Empire of the Ku Klux Klan
drew near the end of its first century, the fiery cross had' reached its
Violence and Intimidation
in the South—
A Partial Chronology
[The following chronology does not purport to be a complete
record of the acts of violence, arson and intimidation which have
taken place in the South in the period between September, 1962, and
April, 1965. Nor is each episode necessarily attributable directly to the
activity of the Ku Klux Klans. But knowledgeable observers believe
that most acts of violence in the South in recent years are the work of
the Klans, individuals working closely with the Klans, or Klan-type
Sept. 1, 1962 Louisiana
Sept. 3, 1962 Albany, Ga.
Sept. 5, 1962 Dallas, Ga.
Oct. 4, 1962 Greenville, Miss.
Oct. 13, 1962 Birmingham, Ala.
Dec. 14, 1962 Birmingham, Ala.
Feb. 4, 1963 Mobile, Ala.
Feb. 7, 1963 Bossier City, La.
Mar. 24, 1963 Birmingham, Ala.
May 11, 1963 Birmingham, Ala.
Crosses were burned by the Klan in
front of the state capitol in Baton
Rouge; three Negro schools in
Hodge and near Bosco; at a Negro
Minister's home in Bastrop; and in
eleven other north Louisiana towns.
A cross was burned at a Klan meet-
A group of masked riders attempted
to force their way into the home of
a Negro, but were forced to flee
when they were fired on.
A cross was burned near the home
of Hodding Carter, editor-publisher
of the Delta Democrat-Times.
i A man was beaten at a Klan rally
after he declared: "Mob violence is
no answer to anything,"
The New Bethel Baptist Church, a
Negro church, was damaged by a
A cross was burned in front of the
home of a Negro minister who had
urged desegregation of a high
Four men were arrested following
the painting of some 30 KKK signs
on sidewalks, stores, buildings,
traffic signs and driveways.
* A bomb exploded at the home of a
Negro, injuring two of the five oc-
Blasts ripped the home of Rev. A.
D. King and the A. G. Gaston Motel.
May 12, 1963 Anniston, Ala.
May 17, 1963 Alexandria, La.
June 8, 1963 Tuscaloosa, Ala,
June 18, 1963 Gillett, Ark.
June 26, 1963 Gulfport, Miss.
June 30, 1963 Jackson, Miss.
July 14, 1963 Atlanta, Ga.
July 27, 1963 Anderson, S. C.
Aug. 15, 1963 Birmingham, Ala.
Aug. 21, 1963 Birmingham, Ala.
Aug. 26, 1963 Columbia, S. C.
Aug. 26, 1963 Buras, La.
Shots were fired at the homes of
two Negroes. On May 20, a one-
time Klan leader, Kenneth Adams,
was arrested and on May 25 was
convicted for these assaults. He
was sentenced to 180 days in jail
and fined $100 on each of the shoot-
ing counts and freed on bond pend-
ing an appeal. (Adams was also ac-
cused of firing a shot into a Negro
church on May 12. On April 8, 1964
a jury found him innocent.)
A cross was burned in front of the
home of relatives of a Negro youth
who was in jail, charged with the
rape of a white woman.
A cross was burned at a Klan meet-
v A dynamite blast blew out the front
door of a Negro church.
An explosion damaged the offices
of a Negro doctor who was presi-
dent of the local NAAGP chapter.
t An explosion collapsed a two-fam-
ily frame house; four Negro men
A cross was burned at a Klan meet-
Klan meeting featured a cross
Tear gas bombs were detonated at
a department store which had re-
cently been desegregated.
The home of Negro attorney Arthur
D. Shores was bombed.
* A packet of dynamite blew a crater
near the home of a Negro girl,
scheduled to enter the University
of S. C.
An explosion wrecked a classroom
and started a fire in an integrated
Sept. 1, 1963 Winnsboro, La.
Sept. 4, 1963 Birmingham, Ala.
Sept. 7, 1963 Ocala, Fla.
Sept. 8, 1963 Birmingham, Ala.
' Sept. 15, 1963 Birmingham, Ala.
Sept. 18, 1963 St. Augustine, Fla.
Sept. 25, 1963 Birmingham, Ala.
Sept. 30, 1963 Birmingham, Ala.
Nov. 16, 1963 Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Nov. 16, 1963 Rayville, La.
Crosses were burned in front of
several schools, one night after a
The home of Arthur D. Shores was
A 35-foot cross was burned at a
The home of A. G. Gaston, an in-
fluential Negro, was bombed.
The bombing of the 16th Street
Baptist Church resulted in the
death of four Negro girls.
r Four Negroes were beaten when
they drove their car near a Klan
rally. Four Klansmen were arrested
on Sept. 19 and released on bond.
On Oct. 16, one of the beaten
Negroes was convicted of assault-
ing two of the Klansmen. On No-
vember 5, a jury found one of the
Klansmen innocent, and charges
against the other three were dis-
Two bombs were exploded in a
State Police arrested two men in
connection with racial bombings.
The suspects, Robert E. Chambliss
and Charles Cagle, had Klan rec-
ords. A third man, John W. Hall,
was subsequently arrested. On Oct.
9 the City Recorder found the men
guilty of possessing dynamite and
sentenced them to 180-day jail sen-
tences and $100 fines. The three
were released on bond. On June 16
and 18, 1964, they were found not
guilty by a jury.
Two explosions, 18 hours apart,
shattered windows in a Negro
neighborhood and jolted the Uni-
versity of Alabama campus.
Over 1,000 Klansmen assembled
amid the glow of burning crosses.
Nov. 19, 1963 Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Dec. 8, 1963 Dawson, Ga.
Jan., 1964 McComb, Miss.
Jan. 18, 1964 Louisiana
Jan. 25, 1964 Atlanta, Ga.
Jan. 31, 1964 Vicksburg, Miss.
Feb. 15, 1964 Black Lake, La.
Feb. 16, 1964 Jacksonville, Fla.
A dynamite bomb exploded near
the dormitory of a Negro co-ed at
the University of Alabama.
Gunfire and an explosion damaged
the home of a Negro voter-registra-
A cross was burned in front of a
Negro minister's home.
More than 150 crosses were burned
near Negro homes, churches and
schools in five parishes.
During civil rights demonstrations,
Klansmen clashed with Negro stu-
Crosses were burned in seven dif-
Klan burned a cross at a meeting.
A bomb caused extensive damage
to the home of a 6-year old Negro
boy who attended a previously all-
white school. On March 3, William
Sterling Rosecrans, a "close asso-
ciate" of North Florida KKK lead-
ers was arrested and charged with
the bombing. On March 12, the FBI
arrested five Klansmen, Barton H.
Griffin, Jacky Don Harden, Willie
Eugene Wilson, Donald Eugene
Spegal and Robert Pittman Gentry,
in connection with the bombing.
On March 13, Rosecrans, who is
from Indiana, pleaded guilty and a
month later (April 17) was sen-
tenced to 7 years in Federal prison.
On June 30, the five Klansmen went
on trial and a week later Jacky Don
Harden and Robert Pittman Gentry
were acquitted. A mistrial was de-
clared in the cases of the other
three Klansmen. Retrial began on
November 16 and nine days later a
jury acquitted the Klansmen of
charges that they conspired to vio-
late the civil rights of the 6-year-old
Apr. 18, 1964 Notasulga, Ala.
April, 1964 Bogalusa, La.
April, 1964 Jackson, La.
May 2, 1964 Jackson, Miss.
May, 1964 Mississippi
May 29, 1964 St. Augustine, Fla.
June 16, 1964 Philadelphia, Miss.
June 17, 1964 Jackson, Miss.
June 20, 1964 Fayett, Miss.
June, 1964 McComb, Miss.
The Macon County High School
was destroyed by a fire. The school
had recently been ordered to de-
segregate, and white students were
Three men in black hoods abducted
a millworker, accused him of fail-
ing to support his child, beat him
with a pistol and whipped him.
Bob Wagner, a newsman, was
seized by Klansmen near one of
their meetings, and was beaten.
Two young Negroes disappeared
and their bodies were accidentally
found in the Mississippi River in
July by a large group of men who
were looking for three missing civil
rights workers. On November 6
two men, one an acknowledged
member of the Klan, were arrested
on charges of killing the Negroes.
They were freed on bond pending
Crosses were burned in 64 counties
on the same night.
Night-riders shot up an unoccupied
beach cottage and fired into an
automobile, narrowly missing an
aide to Dr. Martin L. King.
A group of armed white men sur-
rounded the Mt. Zion Methodist
Church, beat Negroes and burned
the church to the ground.
A Negro was abducted by a group
of hooded men and was flogged.
A Negro civil rights worker was
chased from his car by a group of
Explosions on one night occurred
at the homes of two Negroes sus-
pected of civil rights activities; at
the barbershop owned by another;
and at the homes of two white men
who had made remarks opposing
June 21, 1964 Branson, Miss.
June 21, 1964 Maben, Miss.
June 21, 1964 Philadelphia, Miss.
June 22, 1964 McComb, Miss.
June 25, 1964 Ruleville, Miss.
June, 1964 Longdale, Miss.
June 27, 1964 McComb, Miss.
The Sweet Rest Church of Christ
Holiness was rocked by an explo-
A crowd of whites, many of whom
were armed, circled a car contain-
ing 6 Negro civil rights workers.
Passengers were spat upon, cursed
Three civil rights workers, two of
them white, disappeared. Their
bodies were found several months
later. On December 4, the F.B.I, ar-
rested twenty-one men, charging
them with conspiring to violate the
constitutional rights of the three
young men. Several of the defend-
ants were members of the Klan.
The men were released on bond.
On Dec. 10, a U.S. Commissioner
dismissed the charges against 19 of
the men. On Jan. 11, 1965, the Gov-
ernment presented to a Federal
Grand Jury the confessions of two
of the men, one of whom is an ac-
knowledged member of a Klan. The
Grand Jury handed down indict-
ments on January 15 against most
of the original defendants. On Feb.
25, a U.S. District Court judge dis-
missed felony indictments against
17 men, but ruled they must stand
trial under a misdemeanor charge.
An 18th defendant was to be tried
separately in Atlanta.
The homes of two Negroes active
in the civil rights movement were
A Negro church was bombed.
Another Negro church was hit by
a fire bomb.
A Molotov cocktail mixture of oil
and kerosene was hurled against
the front door of the McComb En-
terprise Journal A note around the
bottle was signed' "K.K.K."
July 4, 1964 Enfield, N. C.
July 7, 1964 McComb, Miss.
July 11, 1964 Athens, Ga.
July 12, 1964 Natchez, Miss.
July 13, 1964 Elm City, N. C.
% July 14, 1964 Wesson, Miss.
July 17, 1964 McComb, Miss.
Three explosions destroyed a sec-
tion of the civil rights "Freedom
Lemuel Penn, a Negro educator,
along with a companion, had com-
pleted summer military training at
Fort Benning, Ga. They were driv-
ing home when they were fired on
and Penn was killed. On Aug. 6,
four men identified as Klansmen
were arrested in connection with
the killing. On Aug. 31, two men
went on trial. A third man's confes-
sion, later repudiated, was read. On
Sept. 4, a jury found the two Klans-
men not guilty. On Oct. 16, the four
Klansmen, along with two others,
were indicted by a Federal grand
jury, charged with acts of intimida-
tion and violence against Negroes.
On Dec. 29, the Federal indictments
against the six men were thrown
out by a U.S. District Court Judge.
A state charge of murder is still
faced by the Klansman who orig-
inally confessed a role in the slay-
ing. Another man was charged with
being an accessory after the fact.
Two Negro churches were leveled
An attempt to burn a Negro church
that an integrated group planned to
paint led to the arrest of two men.
The KKK had warned that it would
prevent efforts to conduct integrat-
ed projects at a church.
The owner of a gas station was
beaten by three masked and hood-
ed men. He had refused to join the
Klan, had hired Negro help and al-
lowed them to use the cash register.
The Zion Hill Freewill Baptist
Church was burned, and two men
were roughed up by three white
July 18, 1964 Atlanta, Ga.
July 19, 1964 Madison County, Miss.
July 19, 1964 St. Augustine, Fla.
July 24, 1964 St. Augustine, Fla.
July 30, 1964 Brandon, Miss.
July 31, 1964 Meridian, Miss.
Aug. 1, 1964 Farmerville, La.
Aug. 13, 1964 Raleigh, N. G.
Aug. 15, 1964 Natchez, Miss.
Aug. 15, 1964 Greensburg, La.
Aug. 15, 1964 Greenwood, Miss.
Aug. 15, 1964 Jackson, Miss.
Aug. 15, 1964 Mississippi and
Aug. 27, 1964 Jackson, Miss.
Aug. 29, 1964 Natchez, Miss.
Sept. 2, 1964 Enfield, N. C,
Sept. 3, 1964 Enfield, N. C.
Cross-burning at a Klan meeting.
The Christian Union Baptist Church
was destroyed by a fire.
A 20-foot cross was burned at a
A fire bomb was tossed into a re-
cently-integrated restaurant. Later
that day, warrants were sworn out
against five Klansmen charging
them with burning a cross on pri-
vate property without permission.
The Pleasant Grove Baptist Church
burned to its foundation.
The Mount Moriah Baptist Church
was destroyed by fire.
A 50-foot cross was burned at a
Cross burned on lawn of Gov-
Dynamite demolished a nightclub
and bar, serving an all-Negro cli-
entele, located across the street
from a building housing the local
Several crosses were burned.
A Negro was shot while seated in
his car. (He had been severely
beaten the previous month.)
A Negro was shot, a white civil
rights worker was clubbed and at
least six crosses were burned.
Scores of crosses were burned,
many of them fired at 10 p.m. by
obvious pre -arrangement.
A bomb shattered the windows and
doors in the office of a small week-
ly newspaper, whose anti-Klan edi-
tor had won a Pulitzer Prize for her
A cross was burned at a Klan rally.
Several crosses were burned.
Sept. 6, 1964
A dynamite blast ripped through a
white-owned grocery in a Negro
Sept. 7, 1964
Three pre-dawn bomb blasts dam-
aged a home, a store and a shed,
all owned by Negroes.
Sept. 9, 1964
Dynamite damaged the home of a
Sept. 17, 1964
Two Negro churches used for voter
registration activity were burned.
Sept. 19, 1964
Two small churches were hit by
Sept. 20, 1964
McComb, Miss. .
The home of a Negro woman active
in civil rights work was blasted. On
Oct. 1 three white men, who had
membership cards in the KKK,
were arrested; and one of them
was also charged in connection
with the September 9 bombing. On
October 12, the three men, along
with another individual, were in-
dicted in connection with the
bombing. On October 24, the four
men, plus five others who had been
seized in connection with the bomb-
ing, entered pleas of guilty and nolo
contendere. After designating vari-
ous sentences for the nine men, the
judge suspended the sentences.
Sept. 21, 1964
Dynamite bombs hurled from pass-
ing cars damaged a church and
Sept 21, 1964
Enfield, N. C.
Sept. 23, 1964
A bomb was hurled at the home of
a former Negro policeman.
Sept. 23, 1964
Columbia, S. C.
A cross was burned in front of the
Sept. 25, 1964
An explosion ripped a hole in the
lawn at the home of the mayor. An-
other blast occurred at the home of
Sept 26, 1964
Farmville, N. C.
A minister was threatened, har-
rassed and searched while attend-
ing a Klan rally.
Oct. 4, 1964 Vicksburg, Miss.
Oct. 31, 1964 Ripley, Miss.
*■ Nov. 17, 1964 Laurel, Miss.
Nov. 29, 1964 Montgomery, Ala.
Dec. 10, 1964 Ferriday, La.
Dec. 13, 1964 Montgomery, Ala.
January, 1965 Center, Tex.
Jan. 17, 1965 Jonesboro, La.
Jan. 23, 1965 New Bern, N. C.
Feb. 16, 1965 Mobile, Ala.
Feb. 28, 1965 Lowndes County, Ala.
Mar. 5, 1965 Indianola, Miss.
A dynamite explosion heavily dam-
aged a Negro church building that
had been used as a voter registra-
Fire destroyed the Antioch Baptist
Church, which had been used as a
* A union official was kidnapped at
gunpoint and whipped by masked
A dynamite bomb wrecked the car-
port of the home of a Negro family.
Several white men poured gasoline
on a shoeshop and after setting fire
to it, prevented a Negro from leav-
ing. He subsequently died in a hos-
An explosion was set off outside a
Negro church. Three men were ac-
cused of the crime and received 6
month sentences, but were released
on probation after 10 days in jail.
One of the men had been indicted
in 1957 in connection with bomb-
ings of Negro churches and homes.
A number of crosses were burned,
including six on one night.
Fires destroyed two rural Negro
Three explosions wrecked a Negro
funeral home and two cars during
a civil rights meeting. Six days
later, the F.B.I, arrested 3 men, one
of them an Exalted Cyclops of a
Two Negro youths were wounded
by shotgun blasts.
Armed white men disrupted church
services and warned a minister to
leave the county by sundown or he
would never be found.
A Freedom School and library
burned to the ground
h Mar. 9, 1965 Selma, Ala.
Mar. 21, 1965 Vicksburg, Miss.
Mar. 21, 1965 Birmingham, Ala.
Mar. 22, 1965 Birmingham, Ala.
Mar. 25, 1965 Lowndesboro, Ala.
Mar. 29, 1965 Meridian, Miss.
Apr. 1, 1965 Birmingham, Ala.
Rev. James Reeb from Boston was
fatally clubbed. Two days later
four men were arrested.
A Molotov cocktail was thrown in-
to a desegregated cafe.
Four time bombs were discovered
in Negro neighborhoods.
Two more bombs were discovered
in the Negro community.
Mrs. Viola Gregg Liuzzo, a white
civil rights worker, was shot and
killed while driving on the Selma-
Montgomery highway. Four Klans-
men were charged with violating
the civil rights of Mrs. Liuzzo.
Fire bombs were tossed at two
A. dynamite bomb wrecked the
home of a Negro accountant, and
two other bombs were found at the
home of the Mayor and a City
MRS. HELEN BOWNE
ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE OF B'NAI B'RITH
315 LEXINGTON AVENUE, NEW YORK, N.Y. 10016
HS 2330 K63 F63 MAIN
THE GENERAL LIBRARIES |
OF TEXAS AT AUSTIN
Mrs. Helen Bownds